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Rockets adopt a can’t-miss attitude

01/08/2017, 1:05am EST
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Team uses offensive efficiency to topple RedHawks in home win


Toledo’s Luke Knapke shoots over Miami’s Logan McLane, left, during the second half of the Rockets’ victory on Saturday. BLADE/LORI KING

Whether from inside the arc, beyond the 3-point line, or from the free-throw line, the shots were falling for the University of Toledo men’s basketball team against Miami on Saturday at Savage Arena.

The Rockets turned in a highly efficient offensive performance that proved too much for Miami in a 91-76 victory.

Toledo (9-6, 2-0 MAC) shot 56.6 percent (30-of-53) from the field, 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from the 3-point line, and 87 percent (20-of-23) from the free-throw line in a dominant showing for its second Mid-American Conference win.

IN PICTURES: Toledo 91, Miami 76 ■ Briggs Column — UT showing signs of team to keep an eye on 

“I thought from start to finish it was a very efficient offensive game,” UT coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We didn’t play at the same level defensively as we did against Buffalo. We were up 14 at halftime and I thought that 14 should have been 20 or 25. I thought we had too many defensive mistakes. But we moved the ball well, we found the open guy, and we made shots. It was a good win.”

Senior Jonathan Williams led Toledo’s scoring barrage with 25 points, for his eighth consecutive game of 20-plus points. Jaelan Sanford had 22 points, Nate Navigato scored a season-high 17, and Steve Taylor, Jr., had 12 points and 12 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season.

Navigato led the 3-point shooting attack with five 3-pointers, while Williams made four from beyond the arc. Navigato, who was in the midst of a shooting slump, was 5-of-9 from deep, and said it felt good to find his shooting stroke.

“The last couple of games my stroke hasn’t been there, but my teammates found me and I was able to knock them down today,” Navigato said.

The offensive efficiency masked a few defensive flaws for Toledo, as the Rockets gave up 42 points in the paint.

“It’s huge, because if we have defensive mistakes that is going to help us because we are shooting so efficiently and moving the ball,” Navigato said of the 3-point shooting. “So, if we are having a bad defensive game or possession, our offense can pick us up.”

Logan McLane led the RedHawks (8-7, 1-1 MAC) with 25 points, while Rod Mills scored 20.

Toledo had an 18-6 lead after a Taylor layup with 12:40 left in the half. The Rockets took a 42-28 lead into halftime.

Toledo led by as many as 25 points in the second half as they cruised to the victory. The Rockets' 11 3-pointers were a season high, as was the 56.6 percent shooting from the field.

“That was another good thing for us,” Williams said of the team’s shooting. “I think what helped with that was that our team was sharing the ball. When we share the ball we get a lot of open and good shots.”

Toledo was without senior center Zach Garber, who injured his foot in the win over Buffalo. Kowalczyk said he expects Garber to be sidelined for about four weeks.

With two wins to start off MAC play and five straight wins overall, Toledo took care of business in its five-game home stretch.

“We just take it one at a time,” Williams said. “Championship teams, they don’t lose at home. So that’s a goal that we have and we often talk about. We don’t want to lose any home games.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo